Mrs Dalloway

Mrs Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf, is a perfect example of a modernist text. Being one of the first modernist texts around it is a good read to see how Woolf wanted to change conventions of writing. The run-on sentences describing the beauty of nature I particularly enjoyed.


The novel tells the story of a woman preparing for a party, however, the text does not stay in the present. It is a compilation of flashbacks and excerpts from different character’s lives, including Septimus Warren Smith, who is thought to be an ‘alter ego’ or double for Mrs Dalloway herself. This allows Virginia Woolf to explore both extremes of the character without compromising the believability factor. Septimus Warren Smith allows Woolf space to create the side of Mrs Dalloway who struggles to cope with conceding to social conventions. She leads a life so regimented in what is good and proper that the lack of freedom becomes to much for her and these feelings are mirrored by Septimus’s post traumatic stress disorder which results in his suicide.

The way the novel lingers on different characters for little section and then moves somewhere else allows the reader no time to get bored, however, the subject matter sometimes seems a little tedious. I just always had this nagging feeling that I could be reading something more worthwhile. Although it’s a great novel to read in terms of literary movements there is no way I was going to be convinced that women getting ready for parties worth my time reading. Although the awkwardness of rejected marriage proposals and unexpected guests try to stir things up it simply boils down to a group of over-dramatic upper class people attending a ball. Obviously the subject matter is realistic for the era in which it is set but novels based on the trivial are just not my cup of tea lets say.

It would be fair to say this is a decent read if you want to critique it or further your literary knowledge but this isn’t a read just for pleasure.


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